Rochas Man


When it comes to stylistic choices for men, there are unspoken yet ironclad rules of what the hairier sex are “allowed” to enjoy, wear and use. Too many colors, too much design, and the item, be it shoes, spectacles or a shirt, veers dangerously into dandy territory. Which is fine if you're actually a dandy, but less so if you're just a guy who is sick of looking like the Banana Republic catalog and wants to throw a little spice into the mix. While women generally enjoy unlimited sartorial freedom, the line-toeing male bumbles along with his handful of approved flourishes. Over the years we've seen the wax and wane of the trilby, orange trousers, the non-cold weather scarf, and capri length cargo pants. (Seemingly never to wane is the perennial mode of self-expression for straight men: athletic shoes.)
Masculine sartorial expression: is that all there is?
This year's offerings include the bow tie, zany socks, the Mr. Rogers cardigan. My husband's last-minute request for a bow tie to complete his New Year's Eve ensemble led me on a trail of tears from J. Crew to Banana Republic to Zara to Nordstrom to Bloomingdales to Barneys Co-op, the cupboards bare in each haberdashery save for a few rejected clip-ons languishing on the shelves. At the end of my mall rope, I felt preposterously lucky to finally track down a single black silk self tie bow tie at Thomas Pink. Apparently, men are starved for new modes of fashion expression that won't trigger finger-pointing from the other boys on the playground, and when presented with an approved accessory, will stampede in a thundering herd to claim it as their own. Just because a fellow is a conservative dresser doesn't mean he lacks the urge to express the full flower of his individuality through the medium of red laces on his desert boots, dammit!
Blue laces...AND studs? Who do you think you are, dude -- Lady Gaga?
The same paradigm exists in men's fragrances. Post-tween boys absolutely must smell like Axe, no deviations accepted. Thereafter, sneezy (or “fresh”, as it's popularly perceived), Abercrombie & Fitch-style cologne is de rigueur, followed by a period when the mature gentleman is permitted to smell of wood, leather or musk. So what is the bow tie of men's scents? Why gourmands, of course! A little vanilla or coffee or caramel zhushes up standard-issue lavender or patchouli like no mother's business. Candy apple sweetness is the hallmark of recent club bloke fave One Million by Paco Rabanne. The scent of strawberry Jell-O enlivens Sean John I Am King. Like the arbitrary in-and-outness of men's “fun” fashions, the approved-for-dudes smell elements (smellements?) is random. But there's nothing wrong with random, as long as it looks (or in the case of perfume, smells) good. So if your idea of a letting your freak flag fly is smelling like a cupcake, make sure it's a quality cupcake. The sweeter fare can be just as bludgeoning as the sneezy shizz, and a composition's calibration and contrast is what separates greasy kid stuff like One Million from the mmmm of Rochas Man. In Maurice Roucel's Rochas Man, manly lavender is yummed up with coffee, vanilla and licorice. It's satisfyingly full, but not as brutally high-impact as another Roucel work in the same vein, Bond No. 9 New Haarlem. The lavender in Rochas Man is what keeps the sweet on the right side of smothering, making it a great gourmand to wear in transition from winter to spring or summer to fall.
Rochas Man: lovely fragrance, or incredibly dull lava lamp?
With gourmands having been the designated “bow tie” fragrance for so long, I'm wondering what the next mainstream “it's kinda crazy, but it's me” scent trend for men will be?
Rochas Man is available from Perfumania, FragranceX.com and Perfume.com starting at $34 for 1.7 oz
Looking for a fragrance recommendation? Visit Fume Finder: the Katie Puckrik Smells fragrance app.

33 comments:

  1. "Thereafter, sneezy (or “fresh”, as it's popularly perceived)" . . .

    Ha! Or maybe I should type "LOL!" because you really did make me laugh out loud with that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh!

    v-v-v-va!

    love it!

    SoS

    ReplyDelete
  3. So gourmands are the new "safe, but sexy" standard for men's fragrance choices? Hunh. We've moved from dryer lint to the Lindt counter or Starbucks now to declare our separation from the herd?

    I'm going to buck this trend right here and now and offer an alternative for you stuck-in-neutral-and-loving-it men out there:

    Frangipani. The major note in that sweet incense burned by the sexy Stevie Nicks/Ani DiFranco clone you went to high school with.

    There's nothing else like the scent of it in the entire pantheon of fragrance in my opinion, and it carries with it all the elements found in Rochas Man - a little spicy, a little cool, and definitely sweet. And it plays well with others in a blend.

    So the next time you want to trade in your khakis for something more visible, check out any fragrance with this note appearing in it and elevate your game, friend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I always have worn women's perfumes if I've liked it, not sure why any man allows themselves to be dictated to over anything, er not much of a "man" if you do, in my opinion

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not so sure about the Gourmand, and certainly not for myself. being a herd member has actually never ever been in my blood anyway. Sometimes I give something I've made to a man, and even though it's not really so, they say, "Oh, it's sweet."

    Seems like Men aren't so sweet oriented. Unless there's a great distinction between sweet and gourmand, maybe I should just shut up then...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Paul, I disagree on the sweet-orientation of men -- a quick scan across the Basenotes boards reveals the mass cult of vanilla, and One Million has become the Axe of 20-something guys. It may be that "oh, it's sweet" is more to do with the layperson's limited olfactory vocabulary than a rejection of sugar.

    But you, dognamedblue, Stefush and other enlightened ones don't trouble yourself with confining "society says yes!" rules, and smell all the better for it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes SoS - she's baaa-aaaack!


    Glad to LOL ya, Nathan!

    Stefush - "from dryer lint to Lindt" - har! Your frangipani talk puts me in mind of a stealth fave of mine, Lolita Lempicka Fleur de Corail (reviewed here). Another Roucel number, it's driftwood and nag champa and frangipani. Sounds like what your high school boho crush smelled like, huh? (Fleur de Corail is a good option for lads branching out into ladeeeeeeeez fumes.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie,
      Trail of tears originating at J. Crew! Hysterical! But obviously worth it if it ultimately resulted in a bow-tie!

      For years I deluded myself into thinking that I abhorred sweet and gourmand fragrances, especially for myself. I came to realize that nearly all of my favorites have a dollop of vanilla and are all a little on the sweeter side! Otherwise fragrances come dangerously close to seeming austere if they're of the bone-dry ilk.

      Thank you for the wonderful post dealing with the strict limitations governing mens' style. A topic close to my heart.

      Delete
  8. Steve G - you could give a masterclass in mens' style. The reason why the husb now steps out in saddle shoes came from your initial inspiration (filtered through me in dollops of low-key persuasion).

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's actually pronounced Rochasss.

    This is from Bela, the owner of the excellent pronunciation-blog Frag Name Of The Day:

    "I have a confession to make: I used to pronounce Rochas with a silent 's'; I even posted it like that originally, but a keen-eared listener commented that she'd heard it pronounced differently in a TV ad. I phoned the company in Paris and they confirmed that the 's' had to be sounded. Proper names don't always follow the rules."
    (from a thread on Basenotes)

    Bjorn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words, Bjorn. :-)

      Delete
  10. Sigh...another day, another French pronunciation correction. If only I'd checked Bela's indispensable Frag Name of the Day before confidently mispronouncing "Rochas". Thanks for the heads up, Bjorn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'indispensable', eh? Are you being ironic, Katie? Hope not. LOL!

      Delete
    2. Hi Bela! No irony here. You provide a wonderful demystifying service for non-French fumeheads everywhere.

      Delete
  11. Oh well, and how could you know? As Bela says, the rules were bent, damn that rule bending Rochas familily ;)
    Bjorn

    ReplyDelete
  12. *slapping my own wrist* From now on, I will make it a practice to consult Frag Name of the Day before every video! New year's resolution!

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Basenoters do love this one, don't they? I have a hunch that Rochas Man, Versace Dreamer, Mugler A*Men, and Bulgari Black, among others, remain in production in large part because of Basnotes chatter and resultant blind-buys.

    Like Steve G above, I had myself firmly pinned into a "No gourmand!" corner before throwing my hands up and admitting I quite enjoy some sweet stuff here and there. I still can't get on board with anything too fruity or candied - 1 Million is my Kryptonite, or would be if Black XS weren't still on the market - but a dollop of vanilla, tonka, chocolate, honey, coffee, or caramel can really turn my crank when the mood hits. (The aforementioned A*Men scratches a number of itches in this regard. I'm currently bingeing on the stuff.)

    Katie, I've always dropped the "s" in Rochas as well. Happy to stand corrected!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Darryl, if chattering on Basenotes is what is keeping Bulgari Black in production, I am willing to chatter a lot more!

    I think Rochas Man is loosing ground on Basenotes to New Haarlem.

    Katie, will you be reviewing Lemon Cloud by Roca? It's an interesting "cold" lemon scent. And supposedly it's edible, so a reviewer worth her salt would most certainly taste it as well as smell it. Yes I have a bottle, but you are the professional, so you taste it. No, you first!
    Bjorn

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was expecting you to dive right in and have a bit of fun with the bottle design for Rochas Man, Katie.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Darryl, I've combined your idiom usage into "crank my itch". For severe cases of perfume binging only.


    Bjorn, Lemon Cloud hasn't floated my way as of yet.


    Flaconneur, I limited myself to my "lava lamp" crack, since between the Tower of Pisa, the Washington Monument and the Rochas Man bottle, phallic shapes in industrial design are old news. Oh, all right, just one more crack:
    "Is that bottle filled with Rochas Man, or is it just glad to see me?" Fnar!

    But really, plenty of fragrance bottles could be considered rude. What about those Kenzo Flower Essentielle bottles?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand, Katie. I will have to be content with your "glad to see me" comment. You are correct, there are many phallic bottles to poke fun at.

      As far as my opinion about the Kenzo Flower Essentielle bottles, I guess drugs or alcohol must have been involved in the conceptual meeting regarding packaging design. Cockamamie is all I can say.

      Delete
  17. I only have one 'pornographic' bottle in my collection - vintage Organza Indecence.

    But if the user imagines a nightie under the robe coming off, then the spell of suggestiveness is broken...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look where anthropomorphizing our perfume bottles leads us!

      Delete
  18. Oh, and not forgetting the vintage Biagiotti Venezia, whose bottle has a strange Rochas Man-shaped orifice at the bottom,though admittedly much smaller in dimensions.

    Maybe it's a match made in heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I enjoyed this Kick Up The New Year post very much, not least the variously pimped pumps, which reminded me of a job I did on thermoplastic polyurethane in 2004 that took me inside the hallowed portals of Nike - and much more importantly, their staff shop!

    I have a sample of Armani Attitude languishing in my "What am I going to do with this?" box, and wondered if it might count as a bow tie scent?

    And you may be interested to know that my brother - he of the luxuriant eyebrows - has been working the bow tie (in his own inimitable, young fogeyish way) since at least 1993. But his favourite fragrance style is citrus, so that doesn't quite figure. : - )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And they say there's no glamor in thermoplastic polyurethane...

      Your brother (one of the world's foremost earthquake experts, everyone) had great self-awareness from the very beginning of his career to identify his persona and stick with it, much like Andy Warhol or Ron Mael from Sparks.

      Delete
  20. Ok, since we are in correction mode and only because you mention it so often: check out pronunciation of Musc Ravageur...

    And I shall forever hold my tongue...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Correction mode: when it rains, it pours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do not worry, Katie: it wasn't bad at all. ;-)

      Delete
    2. Oh thank goodness! Coming from you, that means a lot.

      Delete
  22. Hi Katie! I love the stars necklace you wear on your videos all the time. :) Is it available online? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, the stars necklace is by Lee Angel, and it was a gift from man-crumpet Nathan Branch.

      Delete